Jailed for 12 years: millionaire's son Joshua Dobby who killed child actor and aunt while fleeing police

Tristan Kirk
Joshua Dobby killed a child actor and his aunt

An "out of control" millionaire’s son who killed a child actor and his aunt while fleeing from police in a stolen car has been jailed for 12 years.

Joshua Dobby, 23, careered through the streets of south London at three times the speed limit before crashing into 10-year-old Makayah McDermott and his aunt Rozanne Cooper, 35.

He drove the stolen Ford Focus in the wrong direction on one-way streets in Penge, running red lights, and swerving at high speeds around oncoming traffic.

With a police car in hot pursuit, Dobby lost control of the car as he took a left turn at 55mph, the vehicle striking a bollard and being propelled into the air, landing on Ms Cooper and Makayah as they walked to the park to go on the swings and have ice cream.

Two killed: Police at the scene after the crash

Dobby, who fled from the scene but was quickly captured nearby, had been in a similar car chase in Kent five days earlier, but got away after deliberately speeding at traffic on the wrong side of a dual carriageway and forcing police to abandon the chase on safety grounds.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison with a further three on extended licence.

At the Old Bailey this morning, Dobby, who has admitted manslaughter, came face-to-face with grieving relatives as he apologised for his actions.

"It was reckless and it was stupid. I understand it's caused hurt and anger", he said.

"I know sorry doesn't cut the mustard but I'm truly sorry for what I've done."

Makayah McDermott was killed when a stolen car mounted the pavement and hit him

He admitted he had taken £60 worth of crack cocaine and heroin the previous day and was funding a drug habit with petty crimes.

In a letter to his girlfriend from prison, Dobby wrote: "I swear by almighty God that I will never put another drug in my body. I take oath on that.

"Two innocent people have lost their lives because of my selfish f***ing actions and it all boils down to drugs.

"It should have been me that lost my life but it wasn't.

"I still have a life and I'm determined to do something with it for the same of that child and you."

After the crash, he also told police he "didn't know what he was doing" and conceded in an interview with a probation officer that he was "out of control".

Rozanne Cooper, the aunt of the children, also died (Facebook)

But Dobby insisted today that he was not high at the time of the crash or affected by drug withdrawal symptoms.

He was spotted by police at around 2pm on August 31 driving the stolen car in Penge, hoping to sell it for cash to buy more drugs.

Prosecutor Anthony Orchard QC showed police dash-cam footage of the chase in court.

"He was swerving into oncoming traffic lanes, driving at speed over mini roundabouts with little or no view of other joining traffic", he said.

"He overtook a double decker bus at high speeds on the wrong side, ignoring no entry and no left turn signs and he clipped a parked car."

Mr Orchard said Dobby, who had been doing 60mph along leafy 20 zone streets, lost control of the car as he turned into Lennard Road, killing Makayah and Ms Cooper and badly injuring another child.

"When the Ford reached the junction, it began to turn left and it sounded like the vehicle was accelerating", said the prosecutor.

"The driver of the Ford lost control of the car, it hit the pavement and struck a metal bollard which launched the front of the vehicle into the air."

While the victims were trapped under the car, Dobby got out and fled without glancing back.

The court heard police who were pursuing commented that the situation was "low risk" and they are under investigation for their handling of the incident.

In the previous car chase, Dobby got away by driving so dangerously the police had to back off for the safety of the public.

He sped at up to 80mph, driving at oncoming traffic, taking roundabouts in the wrong direction and overtaking on blind bends at speed.

In an impact statement, Ms Cooper's father Martin, who was at the scene of the crash, said he had been left feeling like he "let down" his family by being unable to stop Dobby.

Dobby, who has never had a driving licence, was on licence from an 18-week prison sentence for handling stolen goods at the time of the crash, and has an April 2010 conviction for aggravated vehicle taking which ended in a crash.

Following the deaths, relatives and friends paid tribute to Ms Cooper and Makayah, who had just earned his big break as a child actor in a production of the Wizard of Oz.

He, along with his sisters and cousin, were all talented actors and models, having appeared in magazine shoots, TV commercials, and on book covers.

Makayah himself had starred in an advert for Asda and was auditioning for the lead role in a TV series when he died.

It also emerged that Dobby is the estranged son of millionaire Mark Dobby, who lives in a £2.7m house in Kent and runs a pet food wholesale company as well as an investments company and a property lettings agency.

At the time of the crash, he was 'sofa-surfing' with friends or sleeping in a car.

Dobby, who is of no fixed address, admitted two counts of manslaughter, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, and dangerous driving.

Mitigating, Tyrone Smith QC said: "His upbringing can only be described as horrific. Those people responsible for parenting him failed in the most lamentable way to protect him from drugs, provide a safe and loving environment and maximise the positive aspects of his character."

Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC also sentenced Dobby for 16 months concurrent for dangerous driving relating to an incident on August 26 last year on the A228 near Snodland in Kent.

He took account of Dobby's life which was "unhappy and very difficult and not always of your own making" which contributed to "poor decision making" and found he was a significant risk to the public in the future.

Even though Dobby did not have a driving licence, the judge further disqualified him for 15 years.

Dobby shrugged at the family of his victims as he was sent down.

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